Alamo City Comic Con Experience 2017
Story by: David A. De La Rosa
Photographs by: Joseph Martinez
Alamo City Comic Con Experience 2017
This past weekend I attended San Antonio’s fifth installment of our local pop culture festival known as the Alamo City Comic Con (May 26th – 28th at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center). Convention goers’ have a chance to cut loose and let their inner geek out. This event allows the attendees the opportunity to dress up in costume and in makeup as their favorite superheroes or villains. It’s very common to see a whole family; mom, dad, and the kiddies dressed as their favorite hero’s.
People come to this convention for the spectacle of the event, to purchase limited edition artwork and collectibles. People go to be seen in their costumes and freely welcome people to take pictures with them if asked. There is also a contingent of professional cosplayers there who have awesome costumes and sell their pictures or offer to pose with attendees for a small fee. For me I like going to this event for a chance to meet some my favorite film and television stars. Whatever the reason people come to this event it all boils down to fun at a reasonable price.
There were many opportunities for the attendees to meet their favorite television or film stars that were scheduled for this event. Either directly by obtaining an autograph at a booth, or a free meet & greet or photo ops, also being able to ask some these celebrities in a panel setting, questions about their lives and television/film work. I attended no less than eight panels in the three day period, each one was very interesting.
The panels that I attended broke down into two groups. The first group, were panels dealing with actors connected to movies and television I grew up with from the ‘80s (i.e. The Goonies, Cheers, Star Wars, & Rocky IV). The second group of panels that I attended were concerning more current pop culture involving television/film and comics (Karl Urban, Kristin Bauer, Frank Miller, & Rob Schneider).
The first panel I attended was The Goonies panel. The panel was comprised of some of the key child actors of that film Sean Astin, Corey Feldman, & Ke Huy Quan. Seeing these actors speak about one of my favorites films growing up, made me get nostalgic for the ‘80s. They were all charming and were fully engaged with the panel audience’s questions. One question posed by the audience was why they never made a sequel; basically there wasn’t a quality script or idea that the three producers (Spielberg, Donner, and Columbus) of the film could agree on in order to make a sequel.
The next panel I went to was the Cheers panel. Two of the main characters of this very talented ensemble cast made it to this panel, George Wendt (Norm) and John Ratzenberger (Cliffy). Growing up, I never missed a Thursday night episode of this classic NBC sitcom. Both of these gentlemen were laid back and very charming, answering all the panel audiences’ questions. For me it was another trip down memory lane.
The main panel of this convention in my opinion was the Star Wars panel. I love anything dealing with Star Wars, and I eagerly awaited this opportunity to see these two actors. The actors that attended were Ian Mcdiarmid (the evil Emperor Palpatine) and Peter Mayhew (everyone’s favorite Wookie, Chewbacca). To begin this panel Mr. Mcdiarmid was escorted to the stage with red imperial guards on either side, with John Williams Imperial March being played in the background, a great entrance. Each gentleman gave interesting anecdotes, about their experiences working on these epic films. One funny anecdote was one in which Mr. Mayhew discussed his displeasure working in the Pacific Northwest filming forest scenes for Return of The Jedi. Mr. Mayhew was informed by the director that this was Bigfoot territory, and to not wander off, the idea being that someone might take a shot at him with his Chewbacca costume on. On a sad note, Mr. Mayhew informed the audience that Carrie Fisher was scheduled to attend this event, and she was sorely missed due to her untimely death.
A panel that I almost missed entirely was the Rob Schneider (Saturday Night Live, Duce Bigalow: Male Gigolo) panel. I really enjoy this comedian’s work, on the small/big screen. He spoke about the current political environment in this country as it pertains to stand up comedy. His speaking on this topic was very serious and thought provoking, it made me think of this man in a different light. He said the worst form of censorship was self censorship. He doesn’t believe in the way students are protesting their views in college campuses, and refuses to perform his act in any college campus, due these students’ activities.
Another panel that I really wanted to go to was the Rocky panel, which was comprised of Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed), and Dolph Lundgren (Drago). I am a very big fan of the Rocky movies and both these gentlemen were important to the Rocky film franchise. These two actors were very funny, charming and friendly rapport with the audience. If anyone has a chance to see these two men at a convention do it, you will leave very satisfied you did.
The Kristen Bauer was one panel, I wanted to attend. For those people who don’t know this actress she played Pam in the True Blood series and also played Maleficent on ABCs Once Upon a Time. This lady is very sweet, honest and down to earth. She is everything a Hollywood actress should be, but almost never is. I was walking by the autograph section of the convention center and a volunteer by Ms. Bauer’s booth said that a free meet and greet was fully acceptable, by Ms. Bauer. So my party and I went up to her shake her hand and say hello. Ms. Bauer couldn’t have been more gracious. If anyone has an opportunity to meet this actress please do it you won’t be disappointed.
One panel that has great significance, in the comic book world, was the Frank Miller panel. This man in the past 40 years has developed a modern adult content in comic books that has never been totally realized until now, in such titles as Daredevil, Batman, Sin City & 300. His stories are very gritty, and have a film noire visual feel to them. The panel was good but I’m not up par on his current project which is the DKIII limited series. There is one issue left to complete the story arch to be released in two weeks, he and other panel members said to read the last page, meaning something significant ends the storyline. Side note my partner covering this event witnessed a chance meeting between two comic book icons, Neal Adams and Frank Miller each one spoke to the other about their mutual admiration.
The last panel was a great one with Karl Urban. For those of you who don’t know this actor, he is currently portraying Dr. McCoy, in the new Star Trek reboot film franchise. This actor has been in many blockbusters such as Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Chronicles of Riddick films. He has also had a turn portraying one of my favorite comic book characters Judge Dredd. Mr. Urban was very funny and very interesting. Anyone there in attendance could tell that he was having fun being there answering questions from the audience. This is another actor I must say if you have a chance to see in person at a convention setting make the effort to do it, he’s worth it.
My observations of this event were over all very favorable. I was glad to see the Black Friday promotion was still in effect offering a greatly reduced discount. Also those passes were mailed to the purchaser, that was a great convenience. For the most part there wasn’t any large lines to get into the convention center, people got in right way. All the panels I attended ran on time, with an exception, of a few cancellations.
I did notice that attendance for this event was down considerably. I think two factors contributed to the lower than normal turnout. The first factor was that this event was held on Memorial Day weekend. A lot of people go out of town to visit family, go to the cemetery, or cookout. The second factor that affected the attendance numbers was that on Saturday, The River City Rockfest was held. This festival had 22 bands performing which included the likes of Def Leppard, Godsmack, The Offspring, and Pap Roach. A lot of people attending that event would have normally bought passes to go to the Alamo City Comic Con. I think that in the future the comic con organizers need to schedule, taking into account conflicting concerts/events. Every year is a learning process of what works and what doesn’t work. Each year there is improvement with this event, and the organizers strive for perfection. Next year’s con will be even better learning from these issues.
David A. De La Rosa: River City Attractions